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WISCONSIN OUTDOORS
Wisconsin

CURRENT NEWS from the Wisconsin DNR

Outlook good for Northern Zone waterfowl hunting
MADISON - A near record numbers of ducks reported in spring, coupled with average breeding conditions and wet summer weather have set the stage for strong fall waterfowl hunting as the North Zone duck season opens Sept. 24.

DNR asks for hunters to record their wildlife observations
MADISON -- With the start of the 2016 deer hunting season Sept. 17, the Department of Natural Resources is kicking off its eighth annual Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, an easy-to-do survey where hunters can record their observations of deer and other wildlife while out hunting. Survey results help track population trends for Wisconsin's deer herd and other wildlife.


Outdoor Report - Sept 23, 2016

WI DNR

Find Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism

General | Northern Region | Northeast Region | Southeast Region | South Central Region | West Central Region

Thursday marks the first day of fall, though it can be difficult to tell through all of the wind, rain, and in some cases, hail of the past several days. In the farther north shades of red, orange and yellow are appearing in areas like Brule River State Forest. Despite a brief upsurge in the mosquito population, cooler weather brought on by the storms of last week should make for excellent weather for all your outdoor pursuits this weekend.

Matt Anchor with a 39-inch musky from a Price County lake.
Matt Anchor with a 39-inch musky from a Price County lake.
Photo Credit: Skip Sommerfeldt

Anglers in the Northwoods are still baiting for musky, with strong measurements coming in despite the lower pressure. Largemouth are hanging out in the shallows, while smallmouth will be going deeper in as water temperatures cool. Walleye fishing has continued to slowly improve with greater numbers of fish showing up in the shallows.

Fishing in the northern counties near Lake Michigan is also recovering from the weather. Anglers on the Menominee River are reporting a steady walleye bite. Trollers out of Kewaunee were seeing catches of chinook, particularly when trolling slow in 15-35 feet of water. Bluegill and crappie are biting along the Oconto River.

Daytime electrofishing surveys were completed on the lower Menominee and lower Peshtigo rivers this week. Flows are high, at over 3,800 cubic feet per second. On the Menominee, pink salmon were captured, mostly females still holding eggs. On the Peshtigo River, only four pink salmon were captured.

On Green Bay, slightly fatter yellow perch were found along Bayshore Park, but the walleye bite in Brown County remains elusive. Fishing in Door County this past week has been good, with anglers reporting a good walleye bite, but action has slowed a bit in the past week. Smallmouth Bass fishing continues to be great for many anglers that put time into locating fish.

Fishing pressure in the southern counties edging Lake Michigan was comparatively higher. Pressure from Sheboygan on down to Kenosha was on trout and salmon this past week. Success with coho and chinook, rainbows and browns varied, with anglers in Racine landing mostly salmon and those in Sheboygan landing more trout. Trout and salmon are staging in the Milwaukee harbor as the runs loom.

Reports indicated it was a great start to the small game, turkey and archery seasons, with some large bucks being taken on opening weekend. Bucks are mostly out of velvet now. With little frost in the forecast, grouse hunters will have their work cut out for them. This weekend also marks the start of the duck season, with the season running into November. While the migration is still a little light, expect the waterfowl population to balloon as we move into October.

Fall bird migrations are in full swing statewide. Southern birders should expect peak warbler migration this week, while diversity remains good in the north with more than 20 species detected in Bayfield County since Sunday. Other Neotropical migrants on their way out include the last of the ruby-throated hummingbirds, indigo buntings and rose-breasted grosbeaks. This weekend also marks Jaegerfest in Superior, an annual event by the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology, featuring field trips and chances to spot open water species like the parasitic jaeger and Sabine's gull.

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workdays

September 29 10 a.m. to noon -Help collect seeds on the three units of the York Prairie State Natural Area and enjoy the beauty of these prairie remnants. The seeds will be used for a prairie restoration of a former agricultural field at the Stauffacher Unit of Muralt Bluff Prairie State Natural Area near Albany, WI. Because various plant species' seeds are ready at varying times, we have collection days scheduled every two weeks so we can collect things when they're ready. No experience is necessary!

September 30, 9 a.m. to noon - The Friends of Cherokee Marsh Cherokeemarsh.org are continuing a project to stop the spread of phragmites (giant reed grass) that is threatening the populations of diverse native sedges, grasses, and flowers in the Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area. We need volunteers to help bundle, cut, and treat the stalks of phragmites. No experience needed; we will provide tools and supplies and train you on site. We will likely see fringed gentians and other special wetland plants in bloom.

Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Statewide Birding Report

Bird migration is in full swing statewide. Southern birders should expect peak warbler migration this week, while yellow-rumped and palm warblers have begun to dominate in the north, though diversity remains good there with more than twenty species detected in Bayfield County since Sunday. Other neotropical migrants are on their way out as well, as we bid adieu to the last of the ruby-throated hummingbirds, indigo buntings, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and other familiar favorites in the coming weeks. Taking their place are the shorter-distance migrants, which are on the increase, especially across the north. These include ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, American robins, rusty blackbirds, hermit thrushes, winter wrens, northern flickers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and various species of sparrows. Among the latter are building numbers of white-throated sparrows, scattered flocks of chipping sparrows, small numbers of Lincoln's sparrows, and the first white-crowned and fox sparrows from breeding grounds in the Canadian boreal forest. The first dark-eyed juncos have also been reported all the way south to Milwaukee. Overhead this time of year is great for raptor migration. While the biggest kettles of broad-winged hawks have now passed, some continue to move through, along with good numbers of sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks, merlins, turkey vultures, northern harriers, ospreys, and even some peregrine falcons. Turning to waterbirds, some Canada geese have moved in from the north in recent weeks, along with the first snow, cackling, and even a greater white-fronted goose, while duck migration is light yet, primarily including blue-winged teal, wood ducks, and some northern pintail. Expect a big increase in waterfowl numbers as we moved into October. Although shorebird numbers are now on the decrease, we're at peak time for black-bellied and American golden-plovers, pectoral sandpipers, and long-billed dowitcher. Many Wisconsin birders will gather this weekend in Superior at the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology's annual event known as "Jaegerfest," where open water specialties like parasitic jaeger and Sabine's gull are seen each fall. This is a fun opportunity to meet fellow birders and see some unusual birds in a beautiful setting. Lastly, one of the big headlines this week came from the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project announcing the discovery of the state's first documented nesting pair of Mississippi kites, a native raptor species of the southern U.S. that has been expanding northward in recent years. ebird.org/content/atlaswi/news/first-documented-mississippi-kite-nest-in-Wisconsin. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Fall colors are now approaching 30 percent of peak. The days are warm, the nights are cool and the days are getting noticeably shorter�a sure sign of the change of seasons. The calendar confirms that autumn has officially begun. It's a beautiful time of year for a canoe trip down the Brule or a walk through the miles of State Forest trails. Duck season opens this weekend. Small game, grouse, turkey and deer archery season opened last week. Just a reminder that fishing on the Brule, upstream from U.S. Hwy. 2, closes on Sept. 30. Fishing on the remaining stretch of river remains open until Nov. 15. The Brule Fish Hatchery personnel, along with other DNR personnel and some members of the Brule River Sportsmen's Club were busy this week clipping fins of the Seeforellen strain of Brown Trout being reared at the Hatchery. These fish will be stocked in Lake Superior next spring. Camping has been popular at the two Brule River State Forest campgrounds. Reservations for the season end this weekend, but the campgrounds remain open with all the sites becoming first-come-first-serve. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Amnicon Falls State Park - It is starting to look like autumn here. Leaves are beginning to change colors, but it will probably be another week or two before we really see some color. Several deer have been spotted in the park along with ruffed grouse and snowshoe hare. The river levels are relatively high for this time of year, but have gotten low enough that Now and Then Falls is down to barely a trickle. The majority of fishing is now open on the river. - Natalie Brown, ranger

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Governor Knowles State Forest - Fall colors are making their way to the forest. All trails have been mowed and are in great conditions for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. - Brandi Larson, visitor services associate

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With nearly all of the major hunting seasons now open, fishing pressure has really started to drop off on most waters across the Northwoods. There have still been quite a few musky anglers out and up until the rain of the last few days, they have been enjoying some decent weather conditions and some pretty good success. Artificial baits such as bucktails and stick baits continue to be the lures of choice, and have produced quite a bit of action along the weed edges. More and more anglers have been using suckers and their success has also been good. Most of the musky have been in the 35 to 42-inch size, but fish up to 46 inches have also been landed in the last week. Walleye fishing has continued to slowly improve with greater numbers of fish showing up in the shallows. Jig and minnow combinations worked on the deep edges and crank baits in the shallows near dark have produced the best success. Largemouth bass continue to be found in relatively shallow water, though they've become a bit more temperamental in their biting. The best action has been in the late afternoon hours after the water has warmed up over the course of the day. Smallmouth bass have still been active and some nice fish have been showing up in the local rivers and flowages. They have still been found near cover along the deep water areas - but look for the fish to go deeper (and become harder to catch) with the declining water temperatures this fall. Panfish action has been fair and some decent catches of crappie, bluegill and perch have been made in the late afternoon hours. The fish have been found along weed edges and near mid-depth cover, with small minnows producing the best success. Anglers are reminded that the inland trout open harvest season has been expanded by two weeks this year and the harvest season now closes on Oct. 15. Many stocked trout lakes will remain open after this date and those waters can be found in the pamphlet entitled "Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations 2016-17". - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - The elk are still spread throughout the forest but the bulls and cows are getting together. The forest is singing with the bugling of the bull elk and the cows are responding. A forest visitor spotted four cows and three calves along Hwy. W, and there are two big bull elk, a 6x6 and a 5x5 that have been the center of attention in the south east section of the forest. Folks have been listening to their music. They have been very visible. This time of the year the deer seem to hang out by the roadsides and the bucks are also very visible. Bow season for deer opened Sept. 17. Bears have been observed by many of the forest staff and visitors, and there has been some very successful bear hunters. Lots of turkeys and some woodcock and grouse have been hanging around the road sides eating ferociously. Ruffed grouse hunting season opened Sept. 17 in Zone B. The rabbit population is bountiful this year as well. The nighthawks, raptors and monarch butterflies are migrating and so are the geese and sandhill cranes. The forest floor is fading, with the ferns turning brown and the ash leaves are falling. Yellow and red leaves are about in about 30 percent of the tree canopy. Goldenrod and ragweed flowers are dull and going to seed. Apples are falling and gardens are producing. Cranberries are ripening. The weather forecast for this week looks like a possibility of rain for the rest of the week. Nights have been in the high 40s so it's awesome sleeping temps. Mosquitoes are low, but the little black flies are out. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The various shades of asters dot the landscape as the goldenrod yellows fade to brown. As the small vegetation turns, the leaves are trying to follow suit. The color seems to be a little late this year due to the abundant rainfall and warm temperatures, but one can find red maples in the low areas and surely the rest of the forest will catch up soon. Mushrooms, turkeys and grouse can be found if the hunter knows where to look for them! It's a great time of the year to be out in the woods! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

Antigo DNR Service Center area

Langlade County - Leaves are beginning to take on color in the Antigo Area. Maple trees in wetter areas are turning a brilliant red while trees on driers sites are just beginning to turn color. Migrating Canada geese have recently moved in to the area. Large flocks have been utilizing grain and hayfields. Water levels on area wetlands will provide excellent conditions for waterfowl hunting. Mallard and wood ducks are the most abundant species across the area. The acorn crop is decent this fall. Deer and turkeys are readily taking advantage of this food source.- Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This report is for the week of Sept. 11-17. Fishing pressure was low for the most part this past week so interviews were hard to come by.

Marinette County - Fishing on the Peshtigo River has been slow with only a few pike and small mouth being reported mainly in the lower section of the river. Trolling out of Little River is producing a few Rainbow, browns and walleye. The Menominee River continues to fish well for walleye early morning and evenings both trolling and jigging. A few pink salmon have made their way to the Dam at Hattie Street. No reports of salmon being caught yet. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Daytime electrofishing surveys were completed on the lower Menominee and lower Peshtigo rivers on Tuesday, Sept. 20. On the Menominee, 27 pink salmon were captured. Most of the females were still holding eggs. No chinook salmon, rainbow trout or brown trout were observed. Flows are high, at over 3,800 cubic feet per second and several gates are open at the dam. Several walleye and smallmouth bass were noted. Water temperature is still quite warm, at 68 degrees. On the Peshtigo River, the area from the city garage landing upstream about a quarter mile to a riffle was surveyed. Four pink salmon were captured. No other trout and salmon species were seen. Other gamefish species observed were walleye and smallmouth bass. There have been no reports of chinook salmon in Little River to date. Depending on survival and return of stocked fish, there is a possibility of a run this fall in that river. It has been stocked annually since 2013 after a three-year hiatus (2010-12) during low water years. Anglers should be aware of a bridge closure at Little River on County Highway B and follow the detours. - Tammie Paoli, senior fisheries biologist, Marinette

Oconto County - Bluegill and crappie are still being caught in good numbers below the Stiles Dam on the Oconto River. Live bait has been working the best. Walleye and perch are being caught from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II. The best baits for perch has been minnows or crawler pieces used with a crappie rig or slip bobber. Walleye are being caught on the rock piles and shoals jigging and casting with only a few fish being caught trolling. Pike and musky are also being caught in the same areas casting cranks and spinners. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Fishing pressure was very low this week out of Bayshore Park, likely due to the high winds and rain. Anglers interviewed were targeting yellow perch and walleye. Yellow perch anglers found lower numbers than up north but found bigger fish, taking home bags of 9 fish on average. Most anglers were using live bait under a slip bobber. Walleye anglers found no success this week. Other than the two targeted species white bass was also caught as bycatch. Water temperatures were in the low 70s to upper 60s and water clarity was 4-5 feet. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Fishing in Door County this past week has been good, though pressure was tamped down off Sawyer Harbor due to high wind and rain. Anglers have been reporting a good walleye bite, but action has slowed a bit in the past week. Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be great for many anglers that put some time into locating fish. Anglers have had their best luck in deeper water (15-25ft) and along bottom structure. Perch anglers have been having a lot of success this past week. Fishing weedlines using small fatheads has been working well in anywhere from 5-20 feet of water. With this fall weather getting closer, the Northern Pike fishing has been starting to pick up in the Sturgeon Bay area. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - This past week got off to a slow start, but cold water showed up nearshore in both Algoma and Kewaunee later in the week and the action picked up. The fishing pressure out on the lake has been fairly low with only a handful of boats going out trolling. On the other hand, fishing pressure on the piers and along shore in Algoma and Kewaunee has been high and should only increase as the next few weeks progress. Anglers trolling have been having a lot of luck in 15-35 feet of water and slow trolling speed has been key. Trolling spoons and crank baits in the bottom half of the water column has been working the best and most anglers are returning to shore with chinook salmon in their coolers. Anglers fishing from the piers have had good luck as well but a good bite has proven more difficult from shore. The best bite has been on spoons, but salmon and trout are being caught on crank baits, spawn sacs, and jigging soft plastics. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - Pier fishing has been hit or miss, but the cool nights have finally started to drop the water temperatures and the bite has started to pick up. Most bites come at first and last light. Both spoons and spawn have been productive. The chinook are finally starting to move up the East and West Twin Rivers with a few fish being caught in the holes and at the dams. In Manitowoc the stretch of river from the mouth to the hospital has produced chinook. Boat anglers have caught some fish by trolling crank baits up and down the river. No salmon have been reported upstream on the Manitowoc River near the dam or the Branch River. Look for the chinook run to pick up as the water temperatures drop and the days get shorter. - Jason Ruckel, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Fall is here and, wouldn't you know it, the mosquitos have decided to make an appearance. Bow hunters may find a thermacell or other bug repellent helpful this weekend when sitting on stand! Fall colors are becoming more evident with more maple showing red, especially those in low lying areas. Bow season is off to a good start with many archers filling tags on opening weekend. Hunters are reminded that they must validate their tag (using a pen or marker) prior to moving the animal and the tag must be attached to the animal if you leave the animal for any reason. This includes walking away to get the four wheeler, hanging the deer in the garage and heading into the house, leaving the deer at the meat processor, and any other reason you might walk away from that animal. Hunters are responsible for making sure the tag is legible should a warden need to check it. Because tags are printed on plain paper this year, bring a zip top bag to put the tag in before attaching the whole works to the deer. Bucks are mostly out of velvet now and fawns are nearly spot free. Mallards are showing up in numbers around the west shores of Green Bay and with water levels up, waterfowl hunters should have an enjoyable southern zone opener. Bear hunting continues with some bait sites being visited for the first time, while others that were frequently visited have been void of activity recently. Hemlock Curve Nature Trail and Woods Road Trails on the Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife Area have been recently mowed and are both great places to get out for a little exercise while enjoying the outdoors�just remember that both areas are open to public hunting so wearing bright colored clothing may be a good safety precaution. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Peninsula State Park - The Eagle Tower was deconstructed this week at the park. Fall colors are just beginning to show up. Park trails continue to be heavily used by both hikers and bikers. There are some road and trail closures due to the tower deconstruction through Friday.

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - We have gotten up to 6 inches of rain and counting. Trout fishing is currently out the question as streams are now a raging torrent. Very tough hunting conditions as it is currently raining and will be through Monday Sept. 26. Local reports of some very large bucks being taken on opening weekend. With no frost in the near term forecast, it will be very sporty grouse hunting with the "green monster" generally winning the battle. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

Sheboygan County - Fishing from both piers has been consistently picking up this week. A variety of fish are being caught, including rainbow trout, brown trout, coho salmon, and chinook salmon. Alewives seem to be the best bait to use, but spoons have also been successful. Boats have been mostly out in about 300 feet of water and have also been catching a little bit of everything, but mostly chinook. The Sheboygan River remains very brown; many fish can be seen, but only occasionally is one caught. The water temperature by the Kohler dam was 66 degrees on Sunday afternoon.

Ozaukee County - The power plant discharge area in Coal Dock park has been a consistently good spot to fish over the past week. On Saturday fish were constantly being hooked, many were lost before getting shore, and many were foul hooked and had be released, but still some good brown trout, chinook salmon, and an occasional coho salmon were landed. Spawn sacs seem to a popular bait choice. The north slip area has been sporadically on and off throughout the week. Some days nothing is caught and some days large chinook salmon are being caught. The pier had had low fishing pressure lately; one coho was seen caught on Saturday afternoon. A couple people were interviewed on Sauk Creek this weekend, but neither had caught any trout or salmon. The chinook can be seen running up stream, but aren't biting much. The boats were averaging about one fish per angler this weekend. Mostly chinook were caught and an occasional coho and brown.

Milwaukee County - Trout and salmon continue to stage in the Milwaukee harbor for the spawning run up area rivers. Flows have dropped on the Milwaukee and Menomonee Rivers after the heavy rains from a couple of weeks ago. A large number of brown trout have moved up the Milwaukee River and are being caught upstream as far as Kletzsch Park. Purple egg pattern flies have taken fish. At the lakefront, cold water has returned to the near shore area, with water temperatures now around 47 degrees. The majority of the fish landed on McKinley pier over the weekend were small browns and rainbows averaging 2 to 3 pounds. Most of the kings landed on the pier were caught an hour before and after sunrise/sunset by anglers casting artificial bait (spoons, kastmasters, white gulp, and crank baits). Anglers fishing behind the Summerfest grounds have been catching a few smaller rainbows and browns with shiners and spoons. A few lake trout (6-7 pounds), brown trout, a king (9 pounds), a couple of coho, and a fresh water drum were landed on the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier over the weekend. The fish were landed by anglers casting spoons, kastmasters, and white gulp. The majority of boats out of McKinley Marina targeted chinook salmon around the break wall gaps and in the mouth of the Milwaukee River. J-plugs and spoons have produced for trollers, and skein fished 20 feet down under a slip bobber has also taken fish. Other boats out of McKinley targeted trout and salmon in 80-140 feet of water with flasher/flies and spoons, but they only landed a few fish. Brown trout have been hitting in 40-50 feet of water south of the Green Can Reef. The river restoration project on the Menomonee River upstream from Miller Park is almost complete. All of the machinery has been removed from the area, and the water diversion pipes are gone. One fly fisherman was seen casting in the newly constructed pools recently with no reports of fish landed. A new canoe/kayak launch is being built below the Bluemound Road Bridge.

Racine County - Anglers this week caught mostly coho and king salmon, and also a few brown trout. Most boaters fished in 20 to 40 feet of water near the piers, however a few trollers said they had better luck near Wind Point. Anglers caught fish on crank baits, spoons, and meat rigs. Anglers also reported fishing between 4-6:30 a.m. produced the most fish. Anglers also reported that most of their fish were caught in the pockets of cold water. Shore anglers caught coho and king salmon from the pier this week. Anglers caught fish on glow in the dark spoons, crank baits, and a few on skein or spawn sacks. Anglers reported spoons and crank baits working the best in the early morning and late in the evening with spawn or skein being the best option for the afternoon. The temperature varied between 52-58 degrees. No anglers reported catching any fish on the Root River this week.

Kenosha County - Most boaters fished the harbor or near the mouth of the Pike River this week catching king salmon, coho salmon, and some brown trout. They caught fish on spoons, crank baits, spawn sacs, and skein. They reported that during the early hours of the morning trolling spoons and crank baits produced the most fish, but during the afternoon skein or spawn sacs worked best. In the harbor the water temperature was 56 degrees. Only two boats were interviewed that fished in much deeper water out on the lake. Those boats fished between 230-270 feet of water and caught rainbow trout, lake trout, and some small coho and king salmon. They caught their fish on spoons all at different depths. Anglers fishing from shore on the beach near the Pike River reported catching king salmon on spoons and spawn sacs. Anglers fishing in the harbor reported catching kings, coho, rainbows, and brown trout. They caught fish on spoons, jerk and crank baits, spawn sacs, skein, tube jigs, and live shiners. None of the bait choices appeared to catch more fish. Most anglers reported that the early morning and late evening hours produced the most fish. The water temperature was 56 degrees. No anglers were interviewed fishing the Pike River this week.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - The forest has received several days of wet weather, in addition to the heavy rains experienced earlier this month, and more rain is in the forecast. The bridle trails in the forest have been closed at least through Sunday, Sept 25. Mountain bikers are asked to refrain from riding the trails as well, until Mother Nature brings us at least 24 hours of dry conditions. Logging operations have been suspended due to wet soils, and portions of the Tamarack Trail remain under water. However, the first fall colors are beginning to appear, and can be found throughout the forest. A recent hatch of late-season mosquitos has become quite a nuisance in some areas. Goose, turkey, squirrel, crow, woodcock, and bow deer seasons are all open. From now through the rest of 2016, some kind of hunting will be open in the forest. Visitors should consider wearing brightly-colored clothing when venturing outside of the closed areas. - Deb Harder, visitor services associate

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South Central Region

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - One of the most recognizable caterpillars in North America, the woolly bear, is becoming more active with the transition to fall. Woolly bear, or black-ended bear, caterpillars are easily recognized through their characteristic behavior of crossing roads, driveways, and sidewalks during the fall, and through their characteristic coloration - black at both ends, with a band of coppery red in the middle. The caterpillar is densely covered with stiff bristles known as setae. The longer a caterpillar has fed and the bigger it has grown, the narrower are the middle red-orange band. Thus, the width of the banding is an indicator of the current or past season's growth rather than an indicator of the length of the upcoming winter. It remains a mystery as to why these caterpillars wander so much, because woolly bears feed on a wide variety of common plants including nettles, dandelions, plantain, grasses, and shrubs. Woolly bear caterpillars overwinter under leaf duff or in other sheltered areas and freezes solid. In the spring, they thaw out and emerge to pupate. Adults are known as Isabella tiger moths. Once it emerges from its pupa as a moth it has only days to find a mate. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Wildcat Mountain State Park - The horse campground and horse trail system are closed until further notice due to heavy rains received during the week of Sept. 19 that caused flooding and damage to the trails. The campground and trails will remain closed until flood waters recede and the trails can be repaired. Due to rising water levels on the Kickapoo River, the canoe landing and Hemlock Trail are under water and closed until flood waters recede and any damage can be repaired. For updated conditions, please call the park office at 608-337-4775.



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